Introducing a new enterprise-level solution almost always faces resistance. Some will take to it eagerly; others may resist and want to stick with what they’re using.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools very commonly run into these problems. CRMs improve communication and collaboration at companies where they’re used effectively. They make customer interactions easier to manage, and they help sales, marketing, and other teams.
Despite the benefits, many companies face resistance to their chosen CRM by internal teams. Individuals can be managed, in time, but coordinated buy-in and use at the team level is vital from the start.
Let’s look at the barriers to teams’ CRM adoption, along with some proven solutions you can apply.
Common Barriers to CRM Adoption
Despite the obvious advantages of using a CRM, why do some teams fail to adopt it?
There are a few main reasons, as this HubSpot article notes:
Lack of employee training
Resistance to change
Employees’ inability to understand the benefits
Employees’ perception of CRM use as a distraction from their main tasks
“When sales teams don’t use their CRM, leads can sit in limbo with no one following up [and] time and money are lost,” Krishna Agarwal, marketing manager for Sansan explains.
This is one of many examples of how CRM non-usage can hurt a company. Yet, with some proper planning and strategy, these can be overcome.
Strategies for Increasing CRM Adoption
Agarwal suggests that companies “be serious about onboarding the CRM, or don’t do it at all.”
Here are some ways to ease adoption challenges.
Empower Champions Within Each Team
If you have someone to fly the CRM flag from the very start, and “champion” the CRM adoption, you’ll have a voice at the employee level. This person will be knowledgeable and will be able to clear up any fears of change.
A growth marketing consultant for Asia-Pacific says, “I’ve seen great value in appointing ‘gurus’ within the team and leveraging their strengths to bring the rest of the team up to speed.” During the initial rollout stage, identify such leaders and train them to use the CRM regularly for a set period.
As they get used to the features and benefits of the tool, these champions/gurus can share their enthusiasm and knowledge with other team members.
An advisor to sales and marketing leaders suggests, “The #1 piece of advice is to find a way to embed the new [tool] into the daily work of employees. If employees see it as difficult, the adoption is almost guaranteed to fail.”
CRM champions can vouch for the tool’s ease of use and encourage colleagues to include it in everyday processes.
Explain the Benefits to Teams Using the CRM
Get buy-in from users by explaining what they stand to gain:
More sales – A LinkedIn report found 34.6% of sales reps believe CRMs directly impact their ability to boost revenue.
Shorter cycles – CRM use can shorten sales cycles in many ways. These include easier access to actionable data, and having all the tools to reach out to customers in one place. A CRM can also enable sales teams to quickly get in touch with marketing colleagues for lead nurturing.
Targeted interactions – Prospecting is one area where sales reps struggle. A CRM keeps all customer information in one place, so sales teams can easily access the information ahead of meetings.
Quicker decision-making – Managers can get quick access to customer data and market trends through the CRM.
Offer Customized Training for Different Users
Client success consultant Christina R. Fritsch believes CRM training is not only important, it “requires a customized approach.”
Such an approach involves setting up separate training sessions for the marketing, sales, data, and all other teams that will use the tool. “Marketing training should focus on things like contact segmentation, list building. Data teams need training on research and data-quality best practices. Sales teams need to learn tasks and tools to enhance their close rates,” she explains.
Ideally, the CRM vendor should provide the training. This reduces time and effort spent by management in bringing various departments up to speed.
Sansan, for instance, offers initial on-the-ground training as well as seminars for champions. This approach ensures strategic implementation, goal-setting, and ongoing feedback.
Look for vendors who provide such training on an ongoing basis – if not onsite, at least online. This can help with quick fixes and systemwide troubleshooting as well.
Enforce Use of the CRM
“People are naturally averse to change, and teams aren’t going to embrace a new process unless it’s mandatory,” the growth marketing consultant says.
However, sometimes even mandatory processes can get ignored, as one of his clients found out. In response, the company took an extreme step. When some sales reps ignored constant reminders to log customer meeting notes into the CRM, the leadership finally put their foot down.
Accounts that weren’t updated were simply reassigned to other sales reps on the team.
There was outrage for a month, but “once the reps started losing accounts [and subsequently their sales incentives], everything fell into place,” says the consultant.
Get Feedback to Include Features Users Need
Employees want to be heard. Those who feel like they are, work 4.6 times harder.
Decision-makers should therefore get employees’ perspectives on what they want out of the CRM. Employees who are involved in the decision can own the decision. They’re much more likely to use something they chose.
Feedback can be gathered through simple online surveys or informal discussion groups. Management can also get team leaders to collect and compile employees’ thoughts. The process has an added benefit of increasing horizontal communication.
A CRM can greatly improve how a company functions, and that leads to a better bottom line. To keep your new CRM from being a white elephant, however, teams need to be aligned in using it. Proper planning can help organizations create the conditions for 100% adoption of their new CRM.